10 Days and Counting

Well, with the nice weather over the bank holiday we now have some flowers proper – in fact, the spikes are opening a little quicker than I would like.  I just need to put them in suspended animation whilst the others continue developing.

Since I don’t have the ability to do that, I’ve taken the plants out of the greenhouse and buried their pots up to the rim.  Luckily the weather is going to cool down and be less bright – hopefully that will slow them some.  There are of course gales and rain forecast…

I could do with some plants enjoying warm sun to bring them on, whilst the others endure a cold snap!  But no too cold and certainly no frost.

Here’s a shot of the plants dug in outside the greenhouse.  Usual early flowering suspects – ‘Ailsa’, ‘Spindrift’, ‘Gossamer’, ‘Summerfield Ariane’, ‘Rona’, ‘Darling Sue’.


And here’s one of the plants that remain in both greenhouses


One thing is for sure – try as you might, Nature remains in control!

I’ll try and get another update out at the weekend, all the best, Mark.


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At last – a floret opens!

Hi everyone – much news today.

First up – we have our very first floret open on a plant of ‘Gossamer’ – this was the bud shown in the post of April 14th!


We’ve also a few flowers on the Nicotiana mutabilis – these are going to be especially valuable with all those lovely leaves hiding the bases of the delphiniums.


Now for the update you’ve been waiting for!

Buds – we have 24 but we also have

28 spikes at various stages of development.  So fingers crossed we will be able to take a reasonable display up to Chelsea.

I also arrived home to a small parcel – the aprons for the workers on the stand have arrived


Am really pleased with them – especially at the bargain price of under £11 for 2.

All the best, Mark.

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Hi All – well, we now have some spikes running up to look at.  I thought it was time we tried to add a little video the blog – so here they are in the Robinson House.

WordPress want to charge me $60/year to put video on the blog – so being mean, I’ve put a link to YouTube above.

Given the development of the plants, barring a total tragedy, we’re pretty sure to have some flowers for Chelsea.  The question is how many!

And here are the other plants in the Old Greenhouse – catching the others up quite well.


I haven’t done a bud count for a few days, I’ll save that excitement til later in the week – when of course we will have a bud and a spikelet count!!!

Have fun, Mark.

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Oh No!!! – this I do not believe!!!

Ok, so, a little post earlier this week (Tuesday) I wrote to tell the world we had 20 buds…..

I’ve just spent a hugely pleasant couple of hours in the greenhouse staking, tieing in and removing a few dead leaves.  Oh yes, and watering.

Well, I’m now panicing again – this time because events are moving apace.

The bud count is now 46 – so well over double that meagre 20 in just 4 days.  Also impressive (or worrying!) is the rate at which the spikes run up.

I also had an impressive looking plant that I’ve had to weed out.  When I could see the buds, there they were fat, proud – and hugely fasciated.  Darn – one of my best plants gone for a burton.

But never mind.  Remember the possibles that I left in the old greenhouse?  Well, they’re doing quite well and the combo of liquid feed and a top dressing of Vitax Q4 (magic stuff if you’re a delph) has worked wonders.  I feel sure a few of these plants will make it to Chelsea.

Of course – if a few plants are early and a bit ‘gone over’ for display, some surgical skills to remove the shabby florets should leave me with a bunch of flowers for display on the table.

Better still are the few seedlings that I put in the greenhouse.  I wasn’t too sure these would do much but they’ve progressed well with feeding.  Even betterer is that they were sown after last year’s Chelsea – I feel a small vase next to the ‘Seed for Sale’ sign coming on.

Today’s been one of those days – absolutely fab!!!  I’m now pretty convinced well have some nice flowers for the show and a realisation that we’re building a stand for the world to see at what is, after all, the best flower show in the world!

No pressure then.

Til next time, Mark.

Oh yes, in case you’re interested, here’s a fasciated bud – truly a double header!Image

By the way – I like lots of other plants too – and here’s a real beaut! Sanguinaria canadensis ‘Plena’



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20 buds and counting

Hi all – quick update, we now have 20 buds showing across the two houses so things looking promising.


Will try an post a picture later in the week.


All the best, Mark.

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A few days and a big difference!

Wow, we had two buds on Sunday night and now 7!  And that does not include all the ones hiding away in the growing point.  Gossamer has even started to extend slightly.

In this update I’m including a couple of pics of the supporting cast of plants.

In this photo are some Orlaya grandiflora.  We grew these in 7cm squares over the winter, there are now three plants in each 3 litre pot.

On the left you can see a few Nicotiana mutabilis – these are the smaller ones.


Here are the main hopes for Chelsea on the delphinium front.

In front of them are the best of the Nicotiana in 3 litre pots.  I saw these at Chelsea last year and bought some seeds.  Look carefully and you can see they’re beginning to run up spikes of their own.  Tucked away in there are also some hardy geranium, aquilegia and brunneras.


Cheers for now, Mark.

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A bud, a bud – YES!!!!!

Hi All, just back from a week away skiing when our delphs were entrusted to our wonderful next door neighbour.

Well, what a difference a week makes, the plants had filled out enormously and their leaves had really grown in size and the stems had thickened up nicely.  Best of all for this stressed out grower was the sight of a couple of buds!!!  Speaking with Rosemary Langdon, they reckon on 4 weeks from bud to flower – so fingers crossed.  I nipped up to the greenhouse late tonight when I got back from work and – lo and behold, two more buds!

I also have a grow light that will get installed in the next couple of days – I’ve also turned up the thermostats on the heaters – to hell with the expense, I want some flowers!


I will try and put a few more pictures up at the weekend along with a revised bud count – currently at 4!

Good growing, Mark.

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Delphiniums – they’re growing!

In spite of the most hideous weather imaginable for the time of year, the delphiniums are continuing to grow – just!

We’ve now moved 30 or so plants into our new greenhouse – that was last thing on Good Friday.  Today they were staked, tidied and top dressed – just how lucky can a plant get!

One of the drawbacks of having had them crammed into the one house was that it made watering very difficult, as a result some went a little on the dry side with the lower leaves dieing off as a result.  Fingers crossed that the top dressing is going to make a big difference.  I’ve used this fertiliser in the past.  On one occasion, I remember the most pathetic little stem in a pot swelled from the size of a drinking straw (thin one at that) to the size of a thick finger.  Speaking of fingers, fingers crossed that the things actually flower in time.

Here’s a shot from earlier this evening – very atmospheric into the sun.


Note the steps and DPC liner – getting the plants in a growing was the priority.  Hopefully the surrounding wreckage will be tidied up at some point during the summer…






The plants are now split between the two houses – mostly in the new one as there is nothing else in there.

IMG_0290    There are still a few to left to stake but they’re mostly done.

If you peer into the growing tip of the plants, it’s just possible to see a tiny flower bud.

I’m back off to work first thing so will be back on Friday night – I shall pray for some warmer and brighter weather.  Should we get that, I’m expecting to see quite a difference – 7 weeks and counting!





Here’s a shot of our other house.  These plants are mostly smaller and less likely to make a good spike.

However, I do recognise that in 7 weeks time, any spike may be a good spike – either way, a few smaller flowers will deffo be a welcome edition.

Til next time, all the best, Mark.IMG_0291

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Delphiniums for Chelsea 2013

As you can see – have finally made a few minutes to update the blog – third post of the evening!

Trying to grow a reasonable number of delphiniums for the Delphinium Society stand is decidedly daunting.  For the last decade or so about 25 plants have made their way to Chelsea from John Barrington’s nursery in Somerset.  Not that many you might think – but actually, that is 25 plants from around 250 or so – or 10%.  In some years, when I’ve been to collect them, there has been the luxury of choice.  In some years there are only 25 with the right amount of flower – the bulk having gone over or being yet to flower.

Back in early January, 71 plants were placed into our 12*8 greenhouse – jam packed and shoulder to shoulder with a small electric fan heater set to keep the frost out and no more.


There they are – mostly in 7.5 or 10 litre pots.  There are also a good few in 5 litre pots too.

iPhone Pics 020And here they are a few weeks ago, lots of growth with a mix of results.

I really wish the new house had been ready sooner as they were near impossible to water with this amount of growth and at this spacing.

I’ll update this post later in the weekend with a picture of the plants in the new house, they have grown immensely in the last few weeks and the best are now set out in the new greenhouse!

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Chelsea 2013 – the structure

It’s been a very busy couple of months with building the greenhouse and other preparations for this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.

A key feature of this year’s Delphinium Society stand will be a small pergola and patio table/chairs.

The pergola has been built from FSC softwood from B&Q – it probably comes from Eastern Europe, rather than the non-FSC stamped timber I could have bought from the local sawmill and sourced from the Forestry Commission.  However, the authorities like the FSC stamp regardless of the eco-disaster in terms of transportation.

Here’s the pergola underway

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We’ve also been constructing the edging for the beds that will hide the pots the plants are growing in –

iPhone Pics 028

We’re not saying the carpentry is fairly ‘rustic’ but the pot does make a nice accent point – am thinking it needs filling with some nice pale yellow violas to add a little colour low down.

We also have a patio table and chairs from the tip.  These are being sandblasted down and repainted in ‘country cream’ – check back later and I will add a before and after picture.  Early results with the paint brush are looking good.

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